Mediacorp defends its hiring practices after racism row

Updated: Oct 2, 2021

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s Mediacorp has defended its hiring practices and policies after becoming embroiled in racism allegations.

Former BBC journalist, Sharanjit Leyl, a Singaporean national of Indian descent, recently shared how she struggled to get hired at a local news station in Singapore.

The award-winning journalist told the BBC's From Our Own Correspondent series that her career would have been "easier" if she had been born Chinese.

"It started with applying for jobs when I returned from North America in the 1990s, armed with a master’s degree and broadcast journalism experience in Canada," she said. "I struggled to get my foot in the door at the local news broadcaster (Mediacorp).”

Leyl further added that she had confronted the man who had rejected her, and that he allegedly replied that viewers “didn’t like watching darker-skinned presenters”.

Although Leyl didn’t mention any names, Mediacorp was quick to deny that the comments came from its present Editor in Chief Walter Fernandez. “We would like to clarify that Mr. Fernandez did not make such a statement,” it noted.

In a Facebook post following on from this, Leyl also commented on Mediacorp’s hiring statistics, but the broadcaster asserted that its hiring practices and policies were based on merit.

The company noted that 30% of presenters on its news channel, Channel NewsAsia, were from minority groups, and that 40% of the entire newsroom identified as minorities. It also said that 60% of the channel’s documentaries, specials, and commissioned programs featured a minority presenter. “This is significantly above the national average,” Mediacorp noted.

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